A spry debut memoir charting the adventuresome life of a well-traveled, nature-loving family man.
“I have had the privilege of living a full life,” writes Hawron, who spent time on five continents in about 30 countries and fathered 12 children. In this book, he generously shares stories of his life, accompanied by photographs of locations, family members, and cherished friends. Spurred on to complete his memoir by his daughter Suzy, who passed away prior to its publication, Hawron narrates a rich, hardy memoir filled with harmless escapades, unconventional follies, and familial love. Unsurprisingly, his childhood in New York state’s Hudson River Valley was spent hiking; later, he attended college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he later indulged his wanderlust. Among the more colorfully depicted places he visited was Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, where he lived for years with his wife and kids; it’s a locale that he ponders extensively with an engaging amalgam of adoration and trepidation. With that same diligence, the author educates readers on what he considers the “major Hong Kong fear factors,” including typhoons, noise, the city’s “olfactory tapestry,” and traffic (Hawron’s chapter on Hong Kong taxicabs is riveting). He also reveals the origins of his surname and the wonderment he harbors for his children, tells of his time spent in New Zealand, and reflects on the strangeness of life in China. Certainly, the writing is splendidly detailed, and Hawron’s skill as an engaging raconteur is evident throughout. However, the book presents his stories randomly and unchronologically, which ultimately works against the memoir as a whole. The result is a fragmented compilation of enjoyable anecdotes, but they often distance the reader from Hawron himself. Still, the memoir’s wholesome core and genuine verve for all things wild and worldly remain: “Actually, my real purpose is to entertain,” the author writes. Readers willing to overlook the disjointed assemblage of his stories will be amply satisfied with the result.
A scattered but diligently
chronicled travelogue featuring tales that are illuminating and effortlessly